Russian military divers trapped on seabed

A deep-sea diving vessel with seven sailors aboard was stuck on the sea floor off the Kamchatka Peninsula yesterday after becoming caught on an unidentified object, Russian navy officials and news reports said.

A deep-sea diving vessel with seven sailors aboard was stuck on the sea floor off the Kamchatka Peninsula yesterday after becoming caught on an unidentified object, Russian navy officials and news reports said.

Navy officials were trying to determine why the military vessel was stuck 625 feet below the surface before launching efforts to rescue the crew, Pacific Fleet spokesman Alexander Kosolapov said.

Kosolapov said that there was likely enough air to last four days, because such vessels typically have oxygen supplies for 120 hours and the accident occurred yesterday during a training exercise.

New agencies and an official in the regional military prosecutor’s office, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there were seven people aboard the military vessel.

Interfax reported that the vessel was in a bay 125 miles south of Kamchatka’s capital,

Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, but the official in the regional military prosecutor’s office said it was 47 miles from the city.

Russian news agencies said there was contact with the sailors, who were not hurt, and ITAR-Tass reported that authorities were preparing to send down a similar vessel to assess the situation.

The accident occurred almost exactly five years after the nuclear submarine Kursk sank to the bottom of the Barents Sea after explosions on board, killing all 118 seamen aboard in painful and embarrassing blow to the Russian navy.

Several of the sailors survived for hours after the accident as oxygen ran out, and Russian authorities came under sharp criticism for their handling of the crisis.

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